Thursday, October 24, 2019

Strong Brave Loved by Holly Gerth - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Bestselling author Holley Gerth feels like your best friend, your supportive sister, and your biggest cheerleader. She understands that you want to be a woman who looks life in the face and says, "You can't beat me." A woman who knows love is a risk and reaches out anyway. A woman who understands kindness takes real courage. Who doesn't fake it or try to hide her scars. Who fights to believe she is who God says she is and helps others do the same.

Strong, Brave, Loved offers 60 short devotions to empower you to be that kind of woman. It's simple, personal, and practical, with room for you to journal your own responses and reflections. With these concise and compassionate devotions, Holley leads you on a journey of discovery as you learn to live in freedom, hope, and holy courage.

My Thoughts:
Holly Gerth is the absolute best at making the reader feel as though she is sitting across the table with you and sharing a cup a coffee with a friend.  Her latest book has taken this sense of conversation to a greater level by providing space after each devotion to share your own thoughts, prayers and response to her devotional.  

Holly always builds from the firm foundation of God's Word, and very personally and gently leads the reader away from the lies of the enemy and straight toward God's truth.  I think what I enjoy most about Holly's writing is that you always feel like you are being talked to as a person of equal worth.  After reading her work for so long, I finally know that she truly wants everyone who reads her work to know that she is God's unique masterpiece.

Her books have seen me through many major life events, and given me strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book to everyone!   

About the Author:
Holley Gerth is a best-selling writer, licensed counselor, certified life coach and speaker. She is cofounder of (in)courage, an online destination for women, which received more than one million page views in its first six months. She also reaches out to readers through her popular blog at www.holleygerth.com and a partnership with DaySpring. Holley lives in the South with her husband, Mark.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

An Interview with Denise Pass, Author of Shame Off You


Shame is an assault on the core of who we are. It assassinates our character, minimizes our worth, and dashes our hope. Like Adam and Eve, we often hide shame, but hiding never heals it. Left unattended, shame can develop into a crippling reality that paralyzes us. Like an infectious disease, shame impacts everyone . . . but not all shame is bad.

Shame can either be an oppressive and powerful tool of worldly condemnation or a source of conviction that God uses to bring his people back to himself. Having the discernment to know the difference and recognize shame in its many forms can change the course of one’s life.

In a transparently honest style, Denise Pass shares of her experience dealing with shame after learning that her former husband was a sexual offender. Having lived through the aftermath, she leads you into God’s Word where you will see for yourself that God is bigger than your pain, shame, mistakes, and limitations.

Shame Off You (available from Abingdon Press) shares how freedom can be found in choosing to break the cycle of shame by learning from the past, developing healthy thinking patterns, silencing lies, and overcoming the traps of vanity and other people’s opinions.


Q: Can you start us off by sharing a little bit of your own story?

I did not realize just how significant of an impact shame had on my life until I started writing this book. I don’t think I recognized all I was experiencing in my life as shame. Shame affected me in profound ways—from worrying to the point of obsession about what others thought of me to shame from my past, present and in the future. Shame was pervasively impacting all of life: how I related to others, processed my perception of myself and responded in social situations. Shame was snuffing out my hope and life, and it felt like I had no way out.

Then in 2007, God revealed to me my (then) husband was a sex offender and some of our children were his victims. This revelation crushed us, and the ensuing shame was crippling. I had waited for marriage and married a Christian man. We were that homeschool family. It did not seem possible. But it was. Through that devastating season, my children and I drew nearer to God, reading the Bible through and clinging to His precious promises. I continued to home educate, and we put one foot in front of the other. Through a five-year long court battle. Through tragic new revelations. Through sorrow up on sorrow and financial woes. God was our God through all of it and the lessons we learned as shame lost its grip on our souls were priceless.

Now, my four oldest are all in college and walking with God, and my youngest son who I adopted from Russia is still home educated by the grace of God. And me? God brought a precious man into my life who I call my Kinsman Redeemer. There’s more about him (my “Bo”—short for Boaz) in the book.

Q: At its root, what is shame, and why is it so detrimental to us?

There are many roots underlying what we call shame.  Shame is the broad term used, but there are so many things interwoven in our culture that we accept as “normal.” Shame is an accusation on our soul that says we are not enough. News flash—we are not enough—but God is. He is our righteousness and removes all of our sin and shame. Shame is peer pressure and the fear of man—we would not have shame if we did not have an audience. Shame is a label or box that imprisons our souls and steals our joy. Shame is detrimental because it gives us a false identity and keeps us from living the abundant life Jesus promises, distracting us from the mission we have been called to.

Q: What are some of the most common underlying sources of shame? Is shame always caused by a sin a person commits him/herself?

Shame is a head game that we do to ourselves most of the time, but there is also plenty of social shaming that goes on—shunning and people condemning one another. While sin invites shame into our lives as a natural consequence, shame is prevalent within our culture. We come by it naturally and so we don’t question it. Expectations cause shame to rise when we don’t meet them. Comparison. Pride. These are huge contributors to the game of shame. The presence of shame in our lives is ultimately a spiritual matter. We feel the truth behind the statement that we are not enough. We accept this condemnation, but it can become our vindication. We are not enough. That’s ok, because Christ is our Righteousness. The enemy of our souls is always accusing us, but our Savior is always interceding for us. 

Q: Shame typically surrounds a situation the public is aware of, at least in the mind of the person walking through it. How can the church community be more supportive of a member suffering with shame?

Great question. We would not have shame if we did not have an audience. It is this fear of man and focus on self that makes us feel so very exposed as we seek acceptance and to snuff out rejection. In my situation, I felt like the church did not know how to handle sex abuse situations, so they didn’t. I was told to be silent. The shame culture thrives in silence. However, being able to talk about it in a God-honoring way and having support instead of isolation would take the sting out of shame and turn it on its head. When we protect the violator and silence the victims, we are propagating and promoting shame.

Q: In what ways do we intentionally or unintentionally heap shame on others?

We live in a society of labels. People try to define one another by false identities based on their performance—good or bad, or their status in this life. When we move away from our identity being in Christ, we find that our identity falls short. Shame was introduced to man in the garden of Eden. We left perfection and chose an insecure, shame-filled culture, instead. Discontent with our lot, comparison and the fear or man have robbed us confidence and plagued us with shame in all of life. Shame is also used as a tool of power by people who seek to subject others, shaming them into submission. And again, shame is in our culture, so it is fairly invisible. We just accept it as part of life, which can cause us to unintentionally continue in the shame culture.

Q: How is Shame Off You set up and designed to be used?

Shame Off You is the story of a girl who shrunk her shame. It is a guide for recognizing the shame all around us and how to rid ourselves of shame biblically. There is a biblical lens of Truth, Humility and Grace that we view shame through, as well as Cycles of Shame and Redemption, a Shame Spectrum and Shame Quiz so we can evaluate how shame is impacting our lives. There is also a resource guide in the back of the book that covers 40 different common shames we might encounter along with Scriptures to combat that shame.

Shame Off You systematically covers everything from feeling shunned and rejected, to being shy, to worrying about what others thought or said about me to traumatic shame that paralyzes us.

Q: What are the steps to overcoming shame?

Shame distracts us from the mission of God and keeps us from living on mission for Christ. It causes us to focus on self and limits our worth. It hurts our relationship with God and others and causes us to live defeated, discouraged lives. It has to be dealt with. Recognizing shame’s presence is necessary to be able to deal with it effectively.

From recognition, we need to discern whether we are dealing with condemnation or conviction. Condemnation is based on works whereas Conviction is based on relationship. Once we know what we are dealing with, we need to consult God’s word and use a biblical filter to evaluate our shame and then let it go. We defeat shame not by mere words. And hiding shame does not heal it. We have to face shame and deal with it biblically to be set free. We don’t get rid of shame because it humbles us—but because it prevents us from living the abundant life Christ promises, reaching those around us.


Denise Pass, author of Shame Off You, is an award-winning CCM recording artist and singer-songwriter, accomplished writer/blogger, speaker and worship leader at women’s conferences as well as a worship leader on staff at her home church. After a crushing discovery of her former husband’s hidden life and surviving a painful divorce, she now shares an inspirational message through her ministry, Seeing Deep Ministries, about seeing the deeper truth in God’s word when life hurts.

Denise also founded and directed a home educational co-op for 12 years and engaged in many educational pursuits, including forming and directing a classical children’s choir. A graduate from the University of Maryland, Denise now resides in Virginia, with her “Kinsman Redeemer” husband and five children.

Learn more about Shame Off You at https://shameoffyou.life/the-book. You can also find out more about Denise Pass at DenisePass.com. She can also be found on Facebook (Denise Pass – Author/Speaker/ Worship Leader) and Twitter (@TheDenisePass).

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Shame Off you by Denise Pass

About the Book:

Learn to recognize and process feelings of shame in a biblical way to restore God-ordained self-worth and hope.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” — Romans 8:1 

Shame is an assault on the core of who we are. It assassinates our character, minimizes our worth, and dashes our hope. Like Adam and Eve, we often hide shame, but hiding never heals it. Left unattended, shame can develop into a crippling reality that paralyzes us. Like an infectious disease, shame impacts everyone . . . but not all shame is bad.

Shame can either be an oppressive and powerful tool of worldly condemnation or a source of conviction that God uses to bring his people back to himself. Having the discernment to know the difference and recognize shame in its many forms can change the course of one’s life.

In a transparently honest style, Pass shares of her experience dealing with shame after learning that her former husband was a sexual offender. Having lived through the aftermath, she leads you into God’s Word where you will see for yourself that God is bigger than your pain, shame, mistakes, and limitations.

Shame Off You shares how freedom can be found in choosing to break the cycle of shame by learning from the past, developing healthy thinking patterns, silencing lies, and overcoming the traps of vanity and other people's opinions.

Learn more at 
https://shameoffyou.life/the-book.

About the author:

Denise Pass, author of Shame Off You, is an award-winning CCM recording artist and singer-songwriter, accomplished writer/blogger, speaker and worship leader at women’s conferences as well as a worship leader on staff at her home church. After a crushing discovery of her former husband’s hidden life as a repetitive sex offender, and surviving a painful divorce, she now shares an inspirational message through her ministry, Seeing Deep Ministries, about seeing the deeper truth in God’s word when life hurts. Denise also founded and directed a home educational co-op for 12 years and engaged in many educational pursuits, including forming and directing a classical children’s choir. A graduate from the University of Maryland, Denise now resides in Virginia, with her “Kinsman Redeemer” husband and five children.

Find her online at DenisePass.com.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Missing Money: Money Monsters by Okeoma Moronu Schreiner Illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat


About the Book:
Kai Akana is your typical little boy. He is thoughtful and brave in his own way.  He has big dreams and an even bigger imagination. In THE MISSING MONEY Kai receives a cash gift (YAY!) from his grandmother but soon "loses" his money to what he believes is a Money Monster.  Kai musters up all his courage and creates a plan to save his money. Luckily, before Kai commits a potential crime, his mother sits him down to explain what happened to his money. Through this adventure Kai learns some important money basics the basics of banking, saving and modern banking technology. 

My Thoughts:
It has been several years since I've had young children in my home, but I am thrilled when I can support someone who taps into a child's imagination and explores things from that perspective.  Kai's experience with an ATM machine is fun and amazing all at once!  What is an almost daily experience in the life of the adult's in his life becomes a rather scary concept for a child who doesn't have the fainest idea of how the banking process takes place.

I thought it was brilliant that Kai waited until he thought his parents were calm before he presented his fears about the Money Monster! His parents responded in a way that was both respectful and empowering by explaining the deposit process, and giving him an ATM card to access his money.  Parents can take a learning queue from the author and be careful not to diminish a child's fear of a concept that is difficult to grasp from their perspective.

This book is going to provide endless hours of conversation and teachable moments between children and their parents.  Bravo!

About the Author:
 Okeoma Moronu is a corporate finance attorney, mother of two and former teacher. She is a graduated from Columbia Law School in 2011 with over $200,000 in student loans and has paid off those loans. In the process of becoming debt free she became quite the personal finance nerd.


Her hope is that the Money Monsters series will create opportunities for parents, teachers, and educators to have money conversations with children that will spark an interest and develop a curiosity, comfort and confidence that will last a lifetime.

Sandhya Prahbat, is the illustrator of the Money Monsters world. She hand painted and digitally rendered a series of dynamic, fun and interesting images that bring Kai's adventure to life for your little one's reading pleasure.  You can learn more about Sandhya at  http://www.sandhyaprabhat.com/

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Q&A with Cark and Leah Burbidge - Living in the Family Blender



When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?  Leah: I never really intended to write a book. But over the years of Clark’s writing I became familiar with the process. We discussed many times the lack of practical ‘How To’ instruction for Blended Families. These discussions evolved into a ‘Let’s write a book on the subject’ decision. So, we kind of fell into this book together out of a desire to pass on our insights and learning. We worked on the stories, examples and the principles extensively and reviewed and edited in general. Although most of the actual writing was done by Clark the development, review and editing were definitely a team effort.
Clark: I have always been a storyteller and enjoyed making up stories, poems and tall tales for my children growing up. I especially liked the bedtime stories I’d make up on the fly because it really challenged me to produce something that would keep a child’s attention. I had different ones for each child. I thought a lot about various stories for years and always had ideas. But it wasn’t until 2010 when I was in between jobs that I decided to try my hand at getting something published. The first year I completed a non-fiction book for 20 and 30 somethings and a Christmas/Holiday book. I also had a fictional fantasy short story prepared that has since become a three-book trilogy. One never knows when you step on the path, as Bilbo Baggins once said, where that will lead. I have had a wonderful experience writing and have loved doing a book together with my sweetheart, Leah. Our collaborative effort turned out to be way beyond our expectations. We are so excited to have this book available for blended families, those thinking about jumping into the blender and single parents. Even though it is focused on these types of families, every family will benefit from attempting to apply the principles we included in our book. This book with Leah marks my 9th book and the last 8 have all been Gold Medal award winners as best in their category.

           What inspired your story?

Leah: Our children and our real-life experiences. We recognized that there wasn’t a lot of information out there to help Blended Families and felt a need to provide a practical guide to fill the void.
Clark: This story is a true one which was forged in the furnace of experience over our combined 68 years of Blended Family experiences and especially our 14 years together. When we started this process, we found a near absence of hands-on experience that provided practical ‘How To’ advice for regular people. The souls of individuals and entire families are dying out there every day because they can’t find simple answers and guidance. Many of the family train wrecks we see break our hearts because they are so easily avoided by consistently applying a few simple standards and rules. If implemented from the beginning it works. But if delayed the burdens can spin quickly out of control into serious individual and family strife that tear at the seams of what might have been an otherwise beautiful story. Our burning desire to help others find peace, joy and true love in blended family life and our own experience with such beauty in the midst of a messy world both inspired and motivated us to write this combination autobiographical and ‘How To’ guide.

Is there a message/theme in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Leah & Clark:
Absolutely. It is that single parents, blended families and any family are good enough to be successful. You have the knowledge and skills if you choose to use them. Anybody can create a happy and fulfilling environment of love, selflessness and compassion. Of course, it takes work and an absence of selfish pursuits, it takes firm commitment as a couple, standards and values and a consistent example to prove that what you are teaching your children works for everyone. You can do it. You really can

What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
Leah & Clark: Whittling nearly endless principles and learnings to a manageable list of ten. We listed numerous qualities, teachings and learnings. Then we grouped them in a way we felt that we could include related ones together. In doing this we arrived at ten principles, plus a couple of bonus ones, that provide a 360 degree look at the ‘How To’ guide for each one. This is what allows average everyday people like us and you to successfully apply the principles and tailor them to each family and individual.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Leah: I love gardening, exercise, reading, baking and doing things to bring a smile to the faces and lighten the burdens of others. We both enjoy time with family and service in the community and in our church.
Clark: I enjoy bicycling both on roads and mountain biking. I also enjoy gardening and hiking and a variety of outdoor activities. We have enjoyed working with youth and neighborhood, church and community service.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Blended Family Insiders: Six Things No One Tells You About Blended Family Life

By Clark Rich and Leah Dee Burbidge
Fourteen years in the family blender has brought us a nearly non-stop series of insights, challenges, shocks, joy and the satisfaction of creating something beautiful nearly from scratch. Six of our most valuable, but frequently unspoken, learnings are listed below.
Keep in mind that a lot of the challenges of blended family life will sound familiar. But they play out with different dynamics because blended families and individuals have perspective, experience and insight that gives them a fragile mix of volatility, skepticism and wisdom. Respecting these dynamics dramatically increases the probability of success. Ignoring them nearly always spirals the family into soul crushing train wrecks.

Nobody Talks About It. Our dating and marriage experience revealed shockingly little available blended family ‘How To’ guidance. Pop culture, literature, movies and media produced a wasteland of mostly useless stereotypes. Family and friends seemed uncomfortable discussing the reality we faced. The elephant was in the room, but the conversation always tended to migrate toward the reasons people find themselves suddenly single. Divorce, death and abandonment are uncomfortable topics. We found taking the lead in turning the conversation toward positive aspects allowed more constructive interactions.

First Steps Determine Results. Success in the family blender is most often determined by how a couple structures their personal relationship and their interaction with the children from the beginning. Casual, careless, loosely committed and primarily physically driven relationships almost never have sufficient strength to withstand the blender. Children won’t buy-in if they think it’s going to lead to another let-down. Blended family life requires an undeniably higher standard and level of commitment. Children get this, parent must also.

Blended Families Done Right Save Souls. We have devoted an entire chapter in our book to the statistical benefits for children by being part of a two-parent family (blended or otherwise). There is no question that such children have dramatically better chances of building a healthy foundation enabling them to be successful in life. Lower rates of poverty, drug abuse, problems with the law or in school, unemployment, depression and general acting out behaviors are well researched. That is not to say there aren’t successful single parents, but it pays to play the odds where you can.

Start Where Your Child Is. Parents cannot start with a child where they are supposed to be or where you think they are but ARE NOT. This dooms your efforts to unrealistic expectations, falling short and builds a culture of regular failure and disappointment. Parents must ‘listen to understand’ and patiently respect what they learn. You will come to appreciate where they believe they are in life and in the family. Once you know where they are then every step is automatically a success because it is a re-enforcing step forward.

The Bio-Compass. There is an especially deep and natural relationship that exists between the bio-parent and their child. This is okay. The non-bio parent will, over time, be allowed to earn their way into that space. However, there will be moments when only the bio-parent can address the child’s needs, trauma or struggle. The non-bio parent must patiently step back, but remain in the picture and supportive, and allow their spouse to take the lead. This is why prideful or selfish attitudes struggle with blended parenthood. It absolutely demands selflessness. Respecting this relationship always wins in the long term.

You Are Not Alone. Because it is not a social topic of conversation does not mean it isn’t common. Research illustrates that a sizable majority of Americans are touched by blended family life in one way or another. They understand you are not broken. This is especially true of single parents. Rest assured there is an individual out there with a healthy, kind outlook who can understand your complex family situation and love you and your children unconditionally. Both single and blended parents can experience happier more fulfilling lives.

It Is Worth It. Blended family life can be rewarding, exciting and fulfilling. Seeing these tender souls, who were once so wounded, blossom with love and kindness in their own increasingly productive lives is worth every struggle, every late night, every heartfelt conversation, every tear and every prayer. Most of all know that you are good enough to be successful.

About the Authors: Clark and Leah Burbidge are 14 years into their blended family experience and loving life more than ever with ten children, eight spouses, eight grandchildren and counting. Their practical ‘autobiographical/how to’ guide is contained in a new Gold Medal award winning book, Living in the Family Blender: 10 Principles of a Successful Blended Family, July 2019 – Deep River Books.



Living in the Family Blender by Clark Rich Burbidge and Leah Dee Burbidge

About the Book:

Blended family issues impact the vast majority of Americans. Yet, society often side-steps the topic while literature leaves a bleak landscape nearly void of practical advice from those who have lived in the trenches.
With over 68 combined years of direct blended family experience, including 14 years with their own family of 10 children, authors Clark and Leah Burbidge are uniquely qualified to fill the void. Their combined autobiographical/how-to guidebook weaves a humorous, tender, uplifting, and critically insightful fabric of 10 foundational principles upon which any family may confidently build. Every blended family can have happier, more fulfilling lives where teamwork, progress, and overcoming-oriented achievement replace disruption, disorientation, and contention.
Living in the Family Blender provides practical guidance upon which any family may build better relationships and a life filled with joy and purpose. Join them in their personal journey and discover glorious possibilities in your own lives. Everyone lives in a blended family.
About the Authors:
Clark and Leah live in the high mountain valleys of the Rockies where they enjoy their ever-expanding blended family of ten children and six grandchildren. They enjoy travel, hiking, road and mountain biking, and serving in their community and church. Clark received a BS in Finance from the University of Utah and an MBA from the University of Southern California and spent 35 years traveling the world as an investment banker, bankernd Chief Financial Officer. Leah earned an Associate Degree from Ricks College and what arguably could be considered a doctoral-level experience in blended families. Clark and Leah treasure their blended wild ride of 14 years together, firmly believing that any challenge is manageable when you have someone you love to walk beside.

You can buy your own copy HERE and HERE!